Liberty Bell. Central Park. Windy City. All famous locations around the U.S. and menu items at the Mason Dixon food truck on Reid Avenue.
This local lunchtime eatery puts the focus on gourmet sandwiches and salads, mixing the best of the north with the flavors of the south.
When owner Kellee Novak and husband Jeremy moved to Port St. Joe nine years ago, they hadn’t yet experienced the joy of southern cuisine. Little did she know that it would soon change everything.
“I didn’t even know what a collard green was,” said Novak of her first experience with traditional southern fare, “but after a while of eating amazing southern food, I couldn’t get enough of it.”
Born and raised in the hustle and bustle of Clinton, NJ, Novak’s family is of Polish and Italian heritage, which meant that she was in the kitchen from the age of 10.
She regularly found herself making dinner for the family and loved the challenge of going to the kitchen, figuring out what she had to work with, and making something delicious.
Those same principals have guided Novak’s creations and make up Mason Dixon’s dishes which she assured, had been thoroughly tested on her husband’s taste buds before going public.
“I love creating something that no one has had before,” shared Novak.
While the size of the truck limits the number of available menu options, Novak doesn’t mind. It gives her the ability to change her menu seasonally, which she believes keeps customers from getting bored with the same old dishes.
“Every day is a different day,” said Novak, “That’s how I want my menu to feel.”
The names of the sandwiches are as unique as the taste, named after locations that Novak has visited or places where her friends live.
Prior to opening Mason Dixon in October of last year, Novak had worked at Bay County Medical and the Gulf County Tourist Development Council. Going into business for herself was always an important goal, especially since long commutes prevented her from spending quality time with her husband, a problem she creatively solved by setting up the food truck directly behind the Novak Law Offices building.
On the first day of business Novak opened the serving window and fired up the grill, but had done no promotion for her business. Not wanting to open with a lot of fanfare, she did it quietly and hoped word of mouth would be on her side.
She wasn’t disappointed. Within an hour of opening she had a line wrapped around the block. She was happy to see many of those customers come back on a regualr basis.
“I think they recognize that it’s something different and unique that stimulates the taste buds in a new way,” said Novak of her regular customers.
Novak is proud to offer a pet-friendly environment in her outdoor seating area. There are posts where customer’s canines can be tied while their owners eat and enjoy a relaxing view of the Gulf. There’s even a jar of free dog biscuits for the four-legged friends to munch on.
Now in her sixth month of operation, Novak has two employees with plans to hire a third to assist with summer operations. She credits her success with constantly pushing herself to improve each aspect of Mason Dixon.
“I’m very open to customer feedback. I have to be,” said Novak, “I’m learning every day.”
Mason Dixon is located at 402 Reid Avenue. Spring and summer hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET.